The era of good feelings has ended.
The era of good feelings is essentially the beginning of a new academic semester.
The students are excited to be back in the classroom. They make promises to themselves about how “this is the semester” that they will work in advance, stay organized, etc. They have new supplies, new opportunities and bright outlooks.
Professors experience it too. We’re excited about the possibilities of a new semester. We enjoy planning classes, restructuring lectures and meeting new students.
The students are prompt, prepared and attentive in class. The professors are animated and interesting, believing they are inspiring students in each class session.
Then, BAM! The era of good feelings ends.
The end typically comes about four weeks into classes, when students and professors feel a sharp drop in satisfaction and an increase in anxiety, according to Joseph Lowman, author of Mastering the Techniques of Teaching. Professors and students probably actually label it as “stress.”
I read Lowman’s book during my Ph.D. work. I’ve experienced the end of the era of good feelings every semester during my almost 15-year teaching career. I was happy to finally have a name for the “wall” that we all hit at this time in the semester.
The great news is that, even though the good feelings may be gone, students and professors adjust quickly and refocus on our work. In fact, optimal learning happens closer to the end of the semester, according to Lowman.
But what do we do right now? How do we push ourselves past the blahs?
As G.I. Joe says, “knowing is half the battle. Understanding that what you’re feeling is normal and will end soon makes a difference.
What’s problematic is when students let this part of the semester control class outcomes. Don’t stop attending classes. Don’t stop doing your best on course work. Push through this.
The end of the era of good feelings in each semester is just one example of the many ways college will teach you to push through difficult times, knowing that positive outcomes are imminent.
If nothing else, it’s almost Fall Break. We can regroup then.